National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Engaging your State & Federal Candidates

Over the next several months, NAMI member will come face-to-face with political candidates in various forums. These questions are a good starting-point for engaging the candidate in dialog on matters of importance to our constituents:

Questions of Federal Candidates

  1. Medicare is going through tremendous changes; however, the program continues to discriminate against people living with mental illness by failing to cover mental health conditions at the same benefit level as general health conditions. How would you address this deficiency in Medicare?P
  2. Prescription drug prices have received extensive public attention for the past few years. In your opinion, what is the role of the federal government in influencing pharmaceutical pricing and utilization?
  3. State revenues remain flat and services to people living with a mental illness are at risk. Increasingly, Medicaid is viewed as the primary purchaser of mental health services. What, if any, changes should the federal government implement with Medicaid?
  4. Approximately 18% of persons incarcerated today have a mental illness, and most are held due to minor offenses. How can the federal government provide leadership in addressing this major concern?
  5. Suicide is a public health crisis for our country. If elected, how would you influence policy to address this tragic trend?
  6. The crisis in children’s mental health services has reached epidemic proportions. In many states, parents of children with mental illnesses are forced to relinquish custody to obtain services for them. What can be done at the federal level to address this national tragedy? 
  7. The National Institute of Mental Health is a leading catalyst for research on serious mental illness. If elected, would you support increase funding through NIMH for significant increases in funding for basic, clinical, and health services research focused on severe mental illness?
  8. Do you support enactment of federal legislation to require health plans to cover treatment for mental illness on the same terms and conditions as all other illnesses, i.e. at "parity" level?
  9. Do you support bipartisan efforts underway in Congress and Bush Administration to end chronic homelessness over the next decade (the "Samaritan Initiative") through increased investment in permanent supportive housing targeted to adults with severe mental illnesses and co-occurring substance abuse disorders?


Questions for State Candidates

  1. In 2003, President Bush’s New Freedom Commission on mental health issued a report which emphasized that mental health systems in the states are broken beyond repair. The Commission’s report further emphasized that a wholesale transformation of mental health services and supports is needed. What changes can be made in our state’s mental health service system to achieve the goals of the report?
  2. Far too many people living with a mental illness are first engaged in emergency rooms or in forensic settings. What solutions do you propose for broadening access to and utilization of community based mental health services and supports to prevent these crises?
  3. Medicaid funds a majority of mental health services for our state’s residents. In your opinion, what is the future of Medicaid?
  4. Accessing services for children and adolescents is next to impossible. Reasons include a small provider base, lack of coordination among different systems impacting on youth, and inadequacy of funding. What strategies do you support for improving access to care?
  5. Psychotropic medications are a critical component of treatment for most people with serious mental illnesses. Some states are responding to fiscal pressures by limiting access to certain medications. Do you support initiatives that promote unrestricted access to these life-saving supports?
  6. Many people with serious mental illnesses do not have access to appropriate housing or employment training. What can be done to increase access to these important services?
  7. State prisons and local jails have become de-facto psychiatric hospitals. What strategies do you support for creating alternatives to incarceration for minor offenders with serious mental illnesses?

Contact your state NAMI organization or state public policy chair for specific questions related to key issues for your state.